Thursday, January 9, 2014

This Is What A Hero Looks Like

Three days ago, fifteen hundred people did not die. A school did not go up in flames. Thousands of families got to see their loved ones again. And it's all because of a guy called Aitazaz Hassan Bangash. He's fourteen years old, dead, and a hero. 
He went to Ibrahimzai School in Hangu, Pakistan. On Monday, most of the students were in a morning assembly, but Aitazaz couldn't go because he'd broken some rule or another. He was hanging out by the school gates with two friends when a man showed up and asked where the school was.
Aitazaz knew something was wrong. Maybe because the guy was wearing a school uniform. Maybe because he looked too old to be a student. Maybe because the school was right there and he still needed directions.
Then he saw the detonator.
His friends ran away. But Aitazaz stayed behind. They later told reporters they saw Aitazaz throwing rocks at the wannabe suicide bomber. When that didn't work, Aitazaz tackled him. The bomber panicked and set off his vest.
One boy dead. But because of him, an entire school gets to live. Wait another week or two and some other tragedy will dominate the news-a bombing, an earthquake, a disease outbreak-the kind of thing that makes you hang your head and wonder how there can be so much suffering in the world. But it doesn't always have to be like that. Sometimes all it takes is one ninth grader to stop a tragedy.
 Aitazaz is my favorite kind of hero. He's not a soldier. He's not a politician. He didn't do this because he's supposed to. He's the kind of guy who steps up because he's the only one who can save everyone. No matter the cost.
I can only wish I would be able to do the same thing if the situation called for it.
I can only wish we all would.

You can follow updates on twitter with #aitazaz or #onemillion aitazaz.

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